Monthly Archives: March 2014

Faraway Flix film “A Separation”


A group of 50 students and campus community members enjoyed the Faraway Flix film “A Separation” featuring the country of Iran in the Faculty House last Friday, March 21. Dr. Soleiman Kiasatpour, Associate Professor in WKU’s Political Science Department, gave an introduction to the film and led a discussion following the movie.


Prior to the film, a special Iranian meal was prepared by the family of Zahra Doostmehraban, WKU freshman from Tehran, Iran. Her mother and father are currently visiting and graciously prepared the food called Khoresht, Khalal, and rice.

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To Speak of All Things As They Are

Spirit of the TimesDetermined to start a non-sectarian, non-political newspaper in Bowling Green, Kentucky, William B. Kilgore issued a broadside in late-1826 soliciting subscribers.  In the advertisement he declares “it almost unneccesary to say any thing of his political opinions”, because the paper was “not intended to be established for political purposes.”  Contrary to his stated resolve, Kilgore quickly  avers “himself in favor” of the Old Court, referencing a political imbroglio that devisively affected Kentucky politics for decades. 

Instead of political diatribe, Kilgore committed his paper to presenting “current news of the day, interspersed with poetical, moral and amusing pieces, as are common to impartial village journals.”  The veracity of his reporting was reflected in his paper’s motto:  “To speak of things as they are.”  Kilgore implored those interested in such a publication to “enroll their names without delay,” and if enough subscribers enlisted he promised he would deliver a newspaper “as soon as practicable.”  Subscribers could pay $2.50 in cash within the first six months of publication, or they could delay payment until the end of the year and pay the full subscription of $3.00.

Kilgore acquired enough subcribers to initiate his endeavor, for on Saturday, 25 November 1826, the first edition of his Spirit of the Times appeared.  Like most local papers of the era, it contains little  local news.  In a town of less than 800 people, everyone already knew each other’s business.  Still, advertisements for local businesses, governmental notices, political announcements, and lists of those having letters at the local post office are of great interest to local historians and genealogists.  The remainder of the newspaper was filled with serialized stories, old national and international news, poetry, and even less noteworthy filler.

One item of interest in the first issue related to the newspaper’s appearance.  “We regret to have occasion to apologize,” wrote Kilgore, “for our maiden sheet not appearing in as handsome dress as we intended in consequence of an unlucky oversight in those who furnished us with type not sending a sufficient quantity of the letter (w) which renders the balance of the fount [font] useless for a time. The deficiency we hope will be supplied in two or three weeks at farthest.”

This fascinating piece of Bowling Green history was discovered as the Lanier Family Papers were being processed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit within the Department of Library Special Collections.  Fortunately the Kentucky Library Research Collections owns what is believed to be a complete run of the newspaper, in both original copy and microfilm, from its maiden issue to November 1827.  To find other collections related to Bowling Green’s past or to the history of Kentucky journalism, search finding aids to our collections in TopSCHOLAR.


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Lions of Baghdad

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Eleven years ago today, on March 19, 2003, U. S. and coalition forces initiated Operation Iraqi Freedom with bombing strikes on Baghdad.  Army engineer Mike Peloquin was among the first troops to enter the country, moving heavy equipment ahead of the main force to make a passable route for the thousands of vehicles that would follow.  Then, on May 2, he wrote “greetings from Baghdad” (from Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace, no less) to Roland and Mary Frances Willock of Bowling Green.  Using recovered Iraqi Republican Guard stationery, Peloquin described his experiences in detail–the massive assembly of tanks and armored vehicles, “our first tragedy” after a soldier died in a collision, a missile attack that left him “leery of … the sound of an unexpected detonation,” and the looming tasks of maintaining order and restoring services to Baghdad’s six million people.  A peculiar challenge was dealing with the city’s animal population.  “Lions are a big thing here,” he wrote, and “one of Saddam’s sons has three in the palace next door.”  Other animals had to be sacrificed to feed them, but a few of the lions themselves were shot when Iraqis allowed them to escape their cages.

Realizing the historical value of accounts like Peloquin’s, Pat Hodges, then the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Coordinator at WKU’s Special Collections Library, began soliciting more contributions of letters, e-mails, diaries, photos and other materials documenting participation in the conflict by Kentuckians and others.  After spreading the word through media outlets across the state, Mrs. Hodges was contacted by National Public Radio and gave an interview about the project to Neal Conan’s Talk of the Nation program.  As a result, more materials began to come in from soldiers like Paul Ratchford, spouses like Michelle Hale, and civilians like William “Buster” Tate, all of whom experienced the war in different ways.  The outreach even secured some collections of letters from other wars.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Click here and here to learn more about the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collecting project on Operation Iraqi Freedom.  To access finding aids for other collections relating to the Iraq War, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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“Passport for Discovery”, Loup Langton speaks at Far Away Places

Faraway Places: Passport for Discovery 11

Loup Langton, Director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at WKU and author of Photojournalism and Today’s News: Creating Visual Reality talked about the lessons he has learned through his travels for WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” talk series at Barnes & Noble on the evening of March 27, 2014.

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Castle on the Lake, Gloria Nixon-John’s “The Killing Jar: Based on a true story” for our Kentucky Live! Speaker Series

Dr. Gloria Nixon-John talks about her book The Killing Jar

WKU Libraries’ Kentucky Live! talk series featured Dr. Gloria Nixon-John and her book The Killing Jar at Barnes & Noble on the evening of March 20, 2014. The book tells a compelling story of a fifteen-year-old who served nine years on Death Row in Eddyville, Kentucky. The author, Gloria Nixon-John, provides documentation for the many problems this youngster endured, and how those who misread the signs condemned him to death.

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“I have got me a leg”

Dr. Freeman Liddell's letter from his father, 1841

Dr. Freeman Liddell’s letter from his father, 1841

I have got me a leg, made by Mr. Mccartey of milledgville, it cost ten dollars, your uncle james got it for me. . . .

So declared Moses Liddell of Gwinnett County, Georgia, in a letter to his son Freeman written on March 2, 1841.  The senior Liddell, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, filled the first several paragraphs of his letter with admonitions to his son to follow a path of uncompromising Christianity.  Worried that 25-year-old Freeman, a physician who had moved to Monroe County, Alabama, might fall victim to the “sin and infidelity” rumored to afflict that region, he assured him that “we have not ceased to Pray dayly for you.”

With respect to his new prosthetic leg, Moses seemed less concerned that it might fall by the wayside.  “I fear whether it will profit me much, I can get about so much better with out it, that I dont use it enough to get use to it,” he wrote.  Like many amputees, he had refused to allow his disability to inhibit his favorite pastime.  “I do almost any traveling on horse back, I love to ride mightily,” he reminded his son.  No doubt 21-year-old “Jinny,” his “constant rideing nag,” had also adapted to her master’s missing limb.

The letter, nevertheless, hinted at the trauma of the amputation itself, especially the impression it left on Freeman’s youngest sister, 3-year-old Nancy.  Presented with a gift, reported Moses, “she was very much overjoyed.”  But when she learned the present was from her big brother “Dr. Liddell,” she would have nothing more to do with it.  “She cant bear the name of a doctor,” explained her father.  “She says you cut off my leg, she ha[s] forgotten you.”

Moses Liddell’s letter is part of the Parker Family Collection, housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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